Subverting expectations in tabletop gaming

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I often struggle with describing exactly how I feel about tabletop games. Specifically, I struggle with describing what kinds of games I enjoy and seek after. This is especially relevant when trying to put a cohesive message together for big events like Defy Danger East, our namesake. I know what I want when I see it, but how do I portray that to others? I’ve done a lot of thinking on this, and I think I’ve got it. The kinds of games I enjoy most are the ones that subvert expectations.

One of the hallmarks of tabletop roleplaying games in general, and a facet which I love, is their ability to portray infinite variety and unlimited imagination. So, when a “new” game product (adventure, system, supplement, etc.) comes out that is limited in its novelty, I’m disappointed. I’ve seen that before, I’ve done that already; where is the new? But when something comes in that does the unexpected, well that is refreshing and keeps my interest.

So it is we are now taking on a new tagline that embodies this stance; DDE Adventuressubverting expectations in tabletop gaming.

Our first offering, The Lost Crown of Tesh-Naga, does this by embracing a gem of an RPG that subverts the expectations of medieval fantasy dungeon crawling. Torchbearer takes the elements of D&D that are typically pushed to the wayside and forgotten (light levels, rations, the grueling demands of real-life cave exploration), and gives them center stage. Cook is arguably the most valuable skill in the game. From the standpoint of traditional D&D-inspired roleplaying games, that’s ridiculous! But that’s why I love it. Torchbearer forces you to think of the game in a new way, to re-imagine things, to open up your mind and think laterally. It’s a wonderful mental challenge.

Our next slated publication, Fortress of the Ur-Mage, also upends the norm. Fortress of the Ur-Mage blends old-school competitive deathtrap dungeon delving full of puzzles and traps with modern storytelling aesthetics allowing the players to be in control of the fiction, all the while putting this on the chassis of familiar 5th Edition D&D rules. A lot of these things sound contradictory and confusing, and that’s where the genius lies. Fortress of the Ur-Mage takes these elements and makes them work together seamlessly in a way that no other adventure does.

After that, we’re gazing out to the highly anticipated Crush the Rebellion. Crush the Rebellion is a fantasy future roleplaying game. To start with, Crush the Rebellion is competitive with a decisive “win” condition. Instead of the default assumption that the players are there to help one another, the assumption is that the other players are your rivals and the challenge is faced when you must place your faith and trust in each other. Instead of the clichéd heroes working together to save the universe, the players act as high-level enforcers of a brutal totalitarian regime , all vying against each other trying to complete their own, individual illegal agendas. Crush the Rebellion also upsets the status quo in terms of its game mechanics. It utilizes the popular Powered by the Apocalypse system (Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, etc.). Where those first pioneering games engender a very free-form gaming experience, Crush the Rebellion adds a rigid structural system to how Moves are triggered and what is allowed to happen when. The feeling portrayed relates to the fiction: the players are simply cogs in the great engine of an uncaring pan-galactic empire. It is through their strategic disruptions of the system that they cause the greatest change and seek to win the game.

So that, in a nutshell, is what you can expect to see from DDE Adventures. Our mantra, our calling – subverting expectations in tabletop gaming.

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